By Laura Milligan
Besides eating to lose weight, why not eat to improve your productivity? Whether the following foods help sharpen your eyesight, keep your brain focused, or just fill you up without making you feel lazy, you’ll find they’ll help you keep your day on track.
Energy and Brain Foods
Most of us can be productive in the mornings, but if you find that you’re unable to concentrate or simply lose the energy to keep going many afternoons, these energy and brainpower boosting foods are what you need.
- Eggplant: As long as you don’t forget to eat the skin, it doesn’t matter how you ingest your eggplant. Eggplant skin contains the nutrient naunin, which keeps your brain sharp by increasing communication between your brain cells and messenger molecules. You won’t be able to help staying focused after eating eggplant.
- Raisins: If you need a boost of energy, steer clear of the carbs and grab a pack of raisins. These high-energy fruits are low in fat and calories and rich in antioxidants which help restore your body’s most important cells. Visit the Sun Maid Web site for recipes and product info.
- Lima beans: Now that you’re over the age of eight, we hope you can finally appreciate why your mother made you eat your lima beans. Lima beans give you tons of energy from iron and dietary fiber while preventing your body from absorbing too much sugar. Iron helps you get a good night’s sleep, as it prevents anemia, a leading cause in sleepless nights for women.
- Corn: Eating corn can help combat stress, so eat up. The important nutrient pantothenic acid is prevalent in corn, which helps metabolism and alleviates stress.
- Figs: Figs have the best kind of dietary fiber that maintains high energy levels while keeping your appetite far away. Whether you find fresh figs or a pack of the dried fruit, enjoy its natural sweetness.
- Tuna: While doctors continue to debate over the good and bad effects of tuna, especially when consumed by pregnant women, there’s no way to ignore the fact that tuna is the original brain food. Not only does tuna help you focus, it also fends off depression. Tuna is good for your heart and helps prevent childhood asthma. Visit the U.S. Tuna Foundation for more information on recipes and mercury levels.
- Spinach: Make like Popeye and inhale that spinach. Full of practically every nutrient you could think of, spinach is the easiest way to take in all your vitamins at once. In addition to fighting cancer and building strong bones and muscles, spinach reduces stress and help keeps your brain young and focused.
- Chicken: Chicken is a lean alternative to beef. It is filled with protein and important B vitamins that give you loads of energy and speed up your metabolism. Eat chicken several times a week and you’ll never be too tired to exercise again.
- Turnip greens: Turnip greens usually don’t get as much credit as they should. A not-so-popular vegetable among children, turnip greens help keep your mind sharp as you creep into old age.
- Green beans: Top off your salad with fresh green beans and feel your energy bounce back. Green beans are packed with iron and zinc, as well as immune-strengthening vitamins A and C.
- Cod: Cod, like the other fish that appear on this list, is an optimal way to get your protein without indulging in a lot of calories. It also helps your brain stay focused and ward off depression.
- Hummus: This all-natural food is an easy way to get some energy-boosting protein fast. Spread hummus on whole grain bread or rye bread for a tasty and quick snack.
- Pita bread: Pick a hearty wheat or whole grain version of this ancient food to reap its health benefits. Pita bread generally has a few more calories than regular sliced bread, but it will help you stay full and focused longer.
- Peanut butter: Get back in the game after just a swallow of this childhood favorite. In moderation, peanut butter makes a great snack. Indulge in a spoonful to curb your appetite and cravings for sugar. Click on peanutbutterlovers.com for a fun look at peanut butter’s history, recipes, and its own special month.
- Kidney beans: These large beans are vital for maintaining high energy levels for long periods of time. Add to chili for a satisfying meal.
- Honey: Drizzle a little honey on your morning toast, and you’ll not only get rid of your sugar cravings, you’ll also decrease your chances of catching a virus or other nasty disease.
- Walnuts: The omega 3 fatty acids found in walnuts help you think more clearly and keep you focused your day. Also excellent sources of protein, walnuts are a delicious alternative to potato chips.
- Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are another popular, but uncommon, way to beat fatigue. They require a lot of work to eat, so your mouth will get a lot of exercise, forcing your body to work for its food.
- Lemons: A squeeze of lemon in your tea or even sucking a sliced lemon for a few seconds will wake up your mouth and give you that extra pep you need to finish the day.
- Sage: Banish forgetfulness with an extra dash of sage. Sage has been proven to improve memory, so you can start untying those strings from around your finger.
For many entrepreneurs, long hours in front of the computer screen has become an absolute necessity. These foods will help you ensure that all that time spent staring at a 17 inch screen doesn’t wear your eyes out.
- Strawberries: As with the other fruits on this list, strawberries help your eyesight. If you’re glaring at your computer all day or just enjoy watching a lot of TV, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Eating strawberries has also been linked to preventing cancer.
- Carrots One cup of chopped carrots will give you six times your recommended daily value of Vitamin A. They improve eyesight, especially in the dark. Rumor has it that carrots will also make your eyes sparkle.
- Smoothies: Smoothies made with real fruit are a tasty, filling way to take in a significant amount of fruits. You’ll feel like you’re indulging in a naughty snack, but you’re not. Find a Smoothie King near you!
- Flaxseeds: If you’ve been working or studying all day, your eyes are probably feeling a little dried out. Flaxseeds help prevent dry eye syndrome, allowing you to feel fresh even after a hard day.
General Productivity Boosters
The foods in this category don’t just boost your productivity in a single way, but rather they help you across multiple categories.
- Salmon: Not just a fish dish delicacy, a single serving of salmon is also full of healthy benefits. Low in calories but high in important omega 3 fatty acids and protein, salmon will keep your appetite at bay while you concentrate on your busy day. Salmon is known for keeping high-blood pressure in check – a benefit for the demanding currency trading lifestyle. Salmon also lowers your chances of sunburn, dry eyes, stroke, prostate cancer, and even minimizes feelings of hostility in young adults. Without the distractions of moody adolescents, you’ll be able to get twice as much done! Click here for delicious recipes.
- Shrimp: Low in calories but high in Vitamin D and protein, shrimp is an excellent choice for a snack or even a whole meal. Good for the heart and the brain, shrimp will help you age gracefully while it decreases your chances of Alzheimer’s.
- Water: Water is probably the most underestimated health drink on the planet. Water speeds up your metabolism, keeps you hydrated, helps skin stay acne-free, and kills appetite. You’ll also be flushing out your digestive system and colon. Visit betterhealth.com for even more benefits!
- Turkey: This lean meat isn’t just for Thanksgiving. Turkey is a huge source of protein and energy. It helps your body fight cancer. Just don’t eat a turkey sandwich for lunch if you’ve got a busy afternoon ahead of you because turkey is full of tryptophan that make you sleepy.
- Mustard Greens: Mustard greens prevent the chances of your body developing asthma and helps relax your muscles if you already have it, allowing you to breathe more easily and regularly.
- Dill: Dill is a popular seasoning not just for its zippy flavor but also for its ability to control bacteria growth. It contains calcium, iron, and magnesium, helping your bones stay strong while you rush around.
- Plums: Not only do plums have a lot of iron, they improve your body’s chances of absorbing enough iron.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes, also known as yams, are surprisingly good for you. Despite their sweet taste, they have been recently labeled as the “antidiabetic food.” As it turns out, sweet potatoes maintain a balance of your blood sugar levels. They also contain an impressive number of antioxidants and proteins.
- Papaya: The benefits to eating papaya are endless. The colorful fruit helps protect you against the potential damages of secondhand smoke, rheumatoid arthritis, and even the common cold.
- Pear: If you’re allergic to many of the fruits on this list, try a pear. Pears are hypo-allergenic, so they provide you with all the healthy benefits of any other fruit, without the nasty side effects.
- Cauliflower: Like most other vegetables included on this list, cauliflower has an immense amount of Vitamin C and impressive detoxifying capabilities. Just don’t pour on the ranch dressing, or you’ll also be getting a lot of fat and calories. Visit cauliflowers.com for new twists on the vegetable.
Avoiding Colds and Other Common Illnesses
Being productive is as much about minimizing downtime as it is about having more energy. These foods will help boost your immune system and ensure that your out of commission for fewer days each year.
- Orange juice: Unless you like getting colds, you’d better drink your OJ everyday. As a prime source of vitamin C, orange juice will keep you energized and healthy…not to mention out of bed and sneeze-free.
- Bell peppers: Want to maintain your busy lifestyle? Better include bell peppers in your daily diet. It doesn’t matter what color, red, green, or yellow, each variety of bell peppers is full of Vitamin A and C, as well as other nutrients which will keep away joint pain and nasty colds.
- Green tea: You may not believe it, but green tea is as healthy as it is trendy. Full of beneficial antioxidants, green tea also strengthens your immune system, saving you a trip to the doctor. Visit the official green tea Web site to find out which flavor makes your taste buds tingle.
- Pumpkin seeds Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, salty snack that reduce symptoms of arthritis and keep you on the move. They strengthen your immune system, so instead of chowing down on sticky candy this Halloween save those pumpkin seeds and snack away.
- Summer squash: Summer squash, or zucchini, is a tasty vegetable that fights diseases big and small. Packed with Vitamin C, folates, and fiber, squash fights against colds and arthritis, metabolic disorders, and even cancer.
- Ground cinnamon: Next time you feel a cough or the chills coming on drink some tea spiked with ground cinnamon. The spice’s warming powers will ease your discomfort and may help ward off the cold altogether.
- Garlic: As long as you pack some mints, it’s more than okay to indulge in a little garlic. Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory, meaning that it is an excellent way to help your body fight infections from the common cold to HIV.
- Apricots: Eating apricots regularly will reduce your chances of getting sick. This fruit is also good for your heart and keeps your eyes sharp.
- Cayenne pepper: Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper on your meal, and clear up a stuffy nose, wake up a lazy mind, or speed up your metabolism. Cayenne pepper also acts as a natural pain reliever, so simple aches and pains won’t be able to stand in your way.
- Cranberries: If you’ve got a urinary tract infection, you won’t be able to concentrate on anything. Drink some cranberry juice (cranberry juice concentrate won’t do the trick) and down a handful or two of the fresh fruit itself. You won’t have to wait too long before the natural healing effects take over.
- Cloves: Add cloves to homemade soup or when baking a spice cake, and you’ll not only protect yourself from dangerous environmental toxins, you’ll also ease any annoying joint pain.
- Clementines: Clementines are a delicious, portable fruit, so feel free to take 2 or even 3 along with you as you head out the door. Clementines may be small, but they’re loaded with potassium, antioxidants, and of course Vitamin C. Dip in chocolate for an extra special treat.
Improving Digestion and Sleep
All the energy foods in the world won’t do you any good if you aren’t getting a decent night’s sleep or are constantly having stomach pains. The foods in this category will help to settle your stomach and ensure that you will be rested for the next day.
- Black beans: Black beans give your body the right kinds of dietary fiber which help clear out your digestive system and keep your tummy from growling between meals.
Great as a topper on salads or mixed with salsa for a delicious dip, black beans are also an excellent source of iron, which gives you more energy and focus throughout the day.
- Bran cereal: Bran is a huge source of dietary fiber, which keeps you full and cleans out your digestive system. Great for battling constipation, bran will keep your mind on your day and not on having to use the restroom.
- Avocado: Avocados are full of dietary fiber and potassium, which will keep you from cramping up due to bloating. Add a little avocado to your salad or appetizer menu and sleep like a baby.
- Apples: You already know that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but do you know why? This sweet snack has a lot of fiber which cleans out your digestive tract while preventing stroke and lowering cholesterol levels.
- Brown rice: Your body digests brown rice much more easily than white rice, all the while soaking up the grain’s valuable nutrients. Brown rice lowers cholesterol and is packed with energy-giving fiber and manganese.
- Onions: Adding onions to any dish will add taste while lowering your blood sugar. Onions are also good for the overall health of your stomach, settling that queasy tummy during a hangover.
- Grapefruit: Loaded with Vitamin C, grapefruit is one of the best ways to fight a cold so you’re alert during the day and decongested enough to sleep at night. It even gives protection against painful kidney stones.
- Pound cake: Munch on pound cake or another sensible dessert to help you drift off to dreamland. Studies show that carbohydrates and comfort food ease your body into a deep sleep. Just be careful not to overindulge or you’ll start packing on the pounds fast.
- Pinto beans: Beans, beans, magical fruit. While most beans boost the ability to clear out your digestive tract in no time flat, pinto beans are probably the best at it. Also a great source of fiber, pinto beans are just another food that keeps your mind on your work, not your appetite.
- Celery: Celery is a great source for Vitamin C and is a popular diuretic. Say goodbye to bloating and cramps when you pile on the celery.
- Cucumbers: Kill two birds with one stone when you eat your cucumbers. Loaded with fiber, cucumbers are full of water, which your body needs to help you digest the high-energy giving fiber.
- Peppermint: If you’ve got a stomach ache or just need to perk up a little bit, try some peppermint. Peppermint is a known muscle relaxant which eases your tummy. It helps you breathe easier, clearing up nasal passages and easing sinus pressure. Get rid of that headache and get back your concentration. Visit botanical.com for a profile on the herb.
- Ginger: Beat nausea and gas with ginger tea or ginger snap cookies. A powerful fighter against motion sickness, morning sickness, and bad gas, ginger eases your tummy muscles and combats gas naturally.
- Pineapple: A serving of fresh pineapple eases your digestive tract and will keep cramps at bay, all while satisfying your desire to nibble on something sweet.
- Cantaloupe: Cantaloupe is one of the best sources of Vitamin A, but it is also rich in potassium. A good choice for anyone who does a lot of walking or running. Cantaloupe will keep your muscles elastic and cramp-free.
- Soybeans: If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, eat soybeans with your dinner. High levels of tryptophan will increase your chances of falling and staying awake all night long.
- Asparagus: Cooked in a casserole or laid gracefully along a plate of lamb, asparagus is full of healthy benefits. A natural diuretic, asparagus combats bloating and PMS, while also protecting a new fetus as it develops inside the uterus.
Low Fat Filling Foods
Bootstrappers often lead a sedentary lifestyle, meaning that if you want to remain fit and productive you’ll need to keep your fat consumption down. The foods in this category are designed to fill you up without expanding your waistline.
- Salsa: Salsa makes a delicious add-on to breakfast eggs or virtually any appetizer, but it also helps control weight gain. An appetite suppressant, salsa helps the body burn calories throughout the day, keeping your mind from obsessing about calorie counting and snacking.
- Egg whites: All the protein of regular eggs without the calories and fat that raise your cholesterol. A favorite among dieters and athletes, egg whites and a sensible exercise routine will keep you looking trim and strong.
- Venison: Whether you shoot it yourself or buy it from the store, venison is a healthy way to enjoy your red meat. Extremely high in protein, venison is surprisingly low in saturated fat. Instead of feeling groggy and greasy after your meal, you’ll feel energized and healthy.
- Yogurt: Low-fat yogurt is an easy alternative to drinking a glass of milk each day. Yet another great source of calcium, yogurt is also rich in nutrients like B12, good-for-you bacteria and iodine, which strengthen your immune system and even adds years to your life.
- Cheese: Cheese isn’t just a valuable source of calcium; it also keeps your muscles elastic, which decreases your chance of experiencing injury or soreness. Be sensible, of course, layering a low-fat variety on your sandwich or eating a handful of cheese cubes is much more healthy than indulging in a greasy slice of pizza.
- Milk: Lowfat and skim milk are full of calcium but low in unnecessary fat and calories. Drinking a glass will keep your stomach full and away from the vending machines. Recent studies also suggest that milk helps your body’s ability to burn fat and lose weight. Drink up! Click on gotmilk.com to see the infamous ads.
- Almonds: Almonds are any weight watcher’s dream snack. Filled with good fats that your body can work off quickly, almonds stay with you so you’re not constantly craving more food. Keep a can on your desk and keep your stomach quiet while you work.
- Potatoes: Stay away from the sour cream and bacon bits, and you’ll enjoy your potato’s health benefits as much as the filling vegetable itself. Dieters often shun the potato because of its starches and carbohydrates, but eating a potato is a surprisingly low-calorie food, which also gives your body the cancer-fighting nutrients it needs.
- Tofu: A healthier alternative to meat, tofu still manages to deliver the needed protein, iron and other nutrients to your body. Tofu is a must-include food for any woman going through menopause, as it maintains a balance of fluctuating estrogen levels and rids your body of symptoms like hot flashes. Talk about improved productivity. Read about tofu here to find out where it comes from and how it’s made.
- Watermelon: Slicing up a watermelon is another great way to have dessert without having to count calories. Despite its simple construction, watermelon is a powerful cancer fighter and energy booster.
- Snow peas: This healthy vegetable doubles as a crunchy snack that might just help you stay awake. The low-calorie food means you can snap away on as many as you’d like, exercising your mouth and avoid falling asleep at your desk.
- Snapper: Another take on the fish plate is snapper. Snapper is great for your heart but low in calories, so don’t feel bad about going back for seconds!
- Diet soda: If you have to drink soda, better make it diet. You’ll eliminate empty calories and teeth-destroying sugar, but still benefit from the caffeine.
- Vanilla soy milk: Flavored soy milk makes drinking your milk as tasty as downing a vanilla shake. Instead of all that sugar and fat, you’ll enjoy the lasting benefits of protein.
- Whole wheat pasta: If you’re dying for Italian food, don’t deny yourself a hearty bowl of good pasta. Substitute white flour pasta for the whole wheat variety. Your body will work off the whole wheat faster, and after dinner you won’t be lying around complaining that you’re too stuffed to do anything.
- Low fat frozen yogurt: A cool burst of this refreshing dessert will wake up your mouth and your mind in no time. Indulging in a sweet treat also helps break up your day.
Controlling Blood Pressure and Becoming Heart Healthy
Entrepreneurs are generally an anxious bunch. All that worrying and hustling can be terrible for your heart, so its important to control your blood pressure
- Bananas: Bananas are rich in Vitamin B and C, but they’re most appreciated for their extremely high levels of potassium, which maintain blood pressure and reduce the probability of stroke. Bananas also contain a vital but often overlooked nutrient called fructooligosaccharide, which increases your body’s ability to absorb calcium and build strong bones.
- Dark chocolate: Indulging in a piece of rich dark chocolate once a day will satisfy your craving for sweets while lowering blood pressure and giving you a load of antioxidants. It’s also been suggested to act as an aphrodisiac, so what are you waiting for?
- Scallops: Scallops are packed with protein, magnesium and vitamin B12, reducing your risk of blood clots and heart problems.
- Romaine lettuce: When you’re washing lettuce for your salad, pay extra attention to the green, leafy kind. Romaine lettuce is packed with Vitamins K, A, and C, and is also good for your heart.
- Olives: Olives are another small but significant anti-inflammatory, as they reduce symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and even menopause. Whether you add them to your pizza or salad, don’t forget the olives!
- Kiwi: Another surprising food that alleviates asthma symptoms kiwi. It reduces the uncomfortable wheezing associated with the respiratory disease. Also an excellent source for antioxidants, refreshing kiwi will also help your body stabilize blood sugar.
- Grapes: Another heart-healthy fruit, grapes can help balance out fattier foods and prevent the formation of dangerous blood clots.
- Collard greens: Guilty only by association, collard greens are an incredible source of nutrients, not a greasy home-cooked artery clogger. Rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, collard greens are a menacing weapon against breast cancer.
Cancer and Long-Term Illness Prevention
While we commonly think of productivity in the short-term, when considering your health and that of your company, it is important to recognize that long-term illness can pose a very serious risk
- Blueberries: Grab a handful to curb your craving for sweets or sprinkle on top of a dessert to satisfy your Vitamin C and E intake. Blueberries also help your eyes quickly adjust to the dark and stay alert during nighttime hours. Blueberries help the brain stay young and avoid the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related brain degenerations. Prime blueberry season lasts May-October.
- Kale: The cancer-fighting advantages of this leafy green vegetable are enormous. Vitamins K, A, and C are abundant in just one serving, as are other key elements such as dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids. Kale protects eyes against damaging UV rays and lowers chances for arthritis. Good news whether you’re an athlete or your job has you locked to the keyboard all day!
- Cabbage: While cabbage contains huge amounts of Vitamin K and other important minerals, its health benefits are especially significant for women. Increasing the rate at which estrogen is broken down, cabbage is good for a cancer-preventing diet. Find any type of cabbage recipe on basic-recipes.com.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes offer an impressive amount of vitamins as well as being a lead contender in the fight against prostate cancer. Slice up for a salad or roast along with tasty summer vegetables for a spicy side dish.
- Leeks: Adding leeks to your salad or soup will give your vitamin A and C levels a needed boost, as well as helps your body fight colon and prostate cancer. A vegetable with virtually no calories, leeks are a great snacking choice if you’re trying to quit smoking. Keep your mouth occupied and the weight off while you nibble on this semi-sweet treat. Find recipes here.
- Broccoli: Just one serving of broccoli will give you a double dose of your daily Vitamin C. Broccoli also helps prevent ulcers and prostate and bladder cancers. So add it as a side to your dinner instead of fries or greasy chips.
- Rye bread: Don’t reach for that sticky white bread any longer. Rye contains as much if not more cancer-fighting nutrients than vegetables and will help you feeling full longer.
- Raspberries: For a fruit so small, raspberries are an enormous source of antioxidants. Raspberries are one of the only fruits that contain ellagitannins, making them a must on our list and an excellent combatant against cancer. Visit thegardenhelper.com for advice on growing your own.
- Basil: Sprinkling just a couple of teaspoons on in your tomato sauce can help protect your family’s genes. Basil strengthens your DNA cell structures and protects against unwanted bacteria which could make you sick.
- Crimini mushrooms These darker mushrooms are rich in valuable antioxidants and iron, combating colon cancer and other diseases while increasing your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
- Brussels sprouts: Another key ingredient to avoiding getting sick, Brussels sprouts are full of Vitamins K and C. They also work to clean out your system and fight many types of cancer.
- Seaweed: Don’t cringe, it’s good for you. And for your potential baby. Seaweed prevents many birth defects, as well as lessening menopause symptoms. Click for recipes.
Now that we’ve provided you with 100 healthy foods, you won’t have any more excuses as to why you’re feeling a tickle in your throat or why you’re groggy and lethargic because of a too-full tummy. Try to incorporate foods from this list into your daily meals, and you’ll experience better and longer productivity all day everyday.